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A Q&A with Lena Jenkins, GM Data Transformation

We sit down with Lena Jenkins to talk all things CX and Data.

“I’m really pleased to welcome Lena Jenkins to Merkle Aotearoa's Executive team in the newly-established role of GM Data Transformation. Lena is a true enterprise leader who brings a real depth of capability across a number of areas that are pivotal to Merkle as we build out and strengthen our focus on data transformation as an integral part of creating connected experiences for our customers and their customers.”

John Bessey, CEO


Tell us about your role.

I am Merkle's new GM Data Transformation. A couple of months into the new role, at the moment I’m spending lots of time meeting people, understanding the various skill sets that exist within the business today and within our broader Merkle and dentsu ecosystem. As I do this, I’m starting to think about what our data proposition looks like and looking for opportunities where data will start playing a greater role within our customers’ experience transformation journeys.

My focus is very much on data transformation in a customer experience context, focused on leveraging an organisation’s data to enable and transform the customer experience. In time, the vision is to have a complete end-to-end offering that will help organisations revolutionise their customer experience across any and all customer touchpoints, at any point in the customer’s interaction with the organisation, regardless of whether or not they’re already a customer.


What are you most looking forward to in your new role?

What I’m really excited about is the possibility of what we can do, continuing to build on Merkle's history and expertise and broadening this out through our data transformation capability. It’s also really exciting to connect the dots within our dentsu and Merkle ecosystem, bringing together a range of expertise and global experience for our customers.


Why is it so important for organisations to be thinking about data within the experience transformation equation, especially now?

Customer experience these days now exists across an ever-growing number of touchpoints and customer expectations continue to increase. Through our various lockdown experiences, we’ve seen that people who previously weren’t comfortable with digital channels have started using them and have adopted them as their main channels. Customers also expect their experience with your brand or organisation to be more personalised than ever. And one of the key enablers to create a truly personalised customer experience across the many touchpoints is data.


Looking to the year ahead, what’s the one thing you’re thinking about and focusing on that will help Merkle's customers get closer to their customers?

The main thing I’m thinking about is what Merkle's data transformation offering will look like and how we can execute well on this as one of the key enablers to improving – and transforming – our customers’ customer experiences. Merkle's purpose is to help our customers get closer to their customers and we will achieve this even more by helping organisations to make the best use of their data as they transform their customer experiences.


In your conversations with New Zealand organisations right now, what’s top of mind for them when it comes to data and transforming their customer experience?

Organisations are starting to realise that their customer data can help them to unlock opportunities to add value for their customers (and their bottom line). But for many organisations one of their big challenges to unlocking those opportunities is that their data is scattered, siloed and it isn’t oriented around the customer as a person. Historically a lot of data solutions and data warehouses have been built around internal business requirements and measures, so a holistic view of customer interactions is challenging. Creating solutions to bring customer data together and identify opportunities to test and learn is a real game changer for organisations.


Tell us a bit about your background.

My background is quite varied – I like getting experience in different areas. I’ve worked across marketing and digital experience teams, in IT delivery and in business change roles as well. Many years ago, I was involved in call centres and even managed property relocations at one point. I have a fascination with how organisations behave and enjoy learning about different industries.

My last role was with Qrious heading up data-powered marketing. Through my roles in recent years, the connection between data, customer experience and technology started to really come together.


What’s your mission in life and what gets you out of bed in the morning?

My purpose is to lead. I want to be able to make a difference on a significant scale leading purpose-driven change. Being purpose-driven has become increasingly important to me.


What do you love most about what you do?

I love working with people and helping to connect them. I believe that bringing together different groups and types of people is the best way to work through challenges, figure out how to best maximise an opportunity and generally get the best outcomes. I’m already seeing lots of opportunities for connections and the amazing things we can do together as Merkle and dentsu Aotearoa.


What do you get up to in your spare time?

I’m a big fan of yoga and running – and I need the yoga to help with the running! I got into half marathons a few years ago (having spent my entire life before that saying I hate c

ardio). Pre-pandemic I loved to travel and one of my other big passions is eating out – I love food!

What are you reading at the moment? And any favorite quotes or mantras you live by right now?

Books are a massive part of my life. I buy physical books and read five books at a time – generally a classic fiction, a literary fiction, a trashy fiction, a business book and a non-fiction – because I want to read everything at once!


Where do you find your inspiration?

As well as finding inspiration in books, I love podcasts. (I guess they’re like books on the go.) I’ll listen to them on long runs on the weekend or weekday commuting and I get a lot of inspiration from listening to different people – quite often someone will say something that connects to what I’m thinking about at work. I’m that person you see walking down the road who starts laughing out of nowhere!

I listen to a range of people and podcasts – news, entrepreneurial, health and wellness, politics, women.  I’m really interested in the psychology of organisations and why they do what they do. Again, it all comes back to my interest in people.

Some of my current podcast recommendations include the Tim Ferriss Show and Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert. For news I like RNZ’s The Detail and New York Times’ The Daily. And I always like a bit of Brené Brown – she’s the new Oprah!


Part of dentsu International, dentsu Aotearoa is a network designed for what’s next, helping clients predict and plan for disruptive future opportunities and create new paths to growth in the sustainable economy. Dentsu delivers people-focused solutions and services to drive better business and societal outcomes. This is delivered through the capabilities of Dentsu Creative, Dentsu Media, and Merkle Aotearoa a Merkle Company, each with deep specialisms.

Read more about dentsu Aotearoa below.


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